What are B Dealers?
On December 18, 2015, Congress passed a ban on all funding of USDA Class B licenses for dealers selling “random source” dogs and cats to medical research. This will effectively shut down these unscrupulous dealers, who will be unable to renew their licenses in 2016. The victory follows more than 35 years of investigations, prosecutions and campaigns against Class B dealers by LCA, who has been instrumental in exposing and ending this brutal industry.
About Class B Dealers
Class B dealers are licensed by the USDA to purchase and sell “random source” animals to medical research. B Dealers obtain animals for resale from other B dealers, shelters and from persons who have bred and raised the animals themselves.
B dealers routinely violate the law by acquiring animals from fraudulent sources and abusing and neglecting them. These animals are often stolen pets, strays or animals obtained under false pretenses through “free to good home” ads. It is virtually impossible to know the true history of an animal acquired by a Class B dealer. Each time a Class B dealer sells an animal to a research lab, a strong possibility exists that he or she is a lost or stolen family pet.
Last Chance for animals has fought for more than three decades to end the B dealer industry via extensive undercover investigations and legal cases.
Bunchers obtain animals through “free to good home” ads, preying on unsuspecting people who can no longer care for their companions. They make promises of a good home and tender care, only to turn around and sell the animals, sometimes the same day, to Class B dealers. In attempts to gather as many animals as possible for sale to research institutions, bunchers also frequently steal companion animals directly from their families.
LCA Investigations into Class B Dealers
LCA’s Special Investigations Team has gone undercover to document pet theft, cruelty and neglect at numerous Class B dealers. Investigators have risked their lives to document the abuse, which includes starvation, beating, lack of shelter and even the slaughter of dogs to be sold for meat.
LCA’s work led to the first-ever state and federal prison sentences for B dealers, and LCA’s groundbreaking investigation into notorious B dealer C.C. Baird was the subject of HBO’s Emmy award-winning documentary Dealing Dogs. This documentary brought the truth about B dealers’ cruelty to prime time, and spurred a national movement against the B dealer industry.
Federal Bans on B Dealers:
Congress bans funding of B dealer licenses: California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) added language to the 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill to deny funds for the licensing or relicensing of Class B animal dealers who sell “random source” dogs and cats for use in research. The bill passed Congress on December 18, 2015.
NIH bans funding of medical research on animals obtained from B dealers: In 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of biomedical research in the US, stopped funding research that involves cats obtained from Class B dealers. In 2014, the NIH enacted a similar ban on dogs. LCA’s investigative work was a key influencer in this historical action, and was referenced in the official report.
Prior to these actions, the only piece of legislation standing between family pets and the unscrupulous B dealers who sell them to be tortured in research facilities was the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Enacted in 1966, the AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for most warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public. Unfortunately, enforcement was completely inadequate and millions of family pets ended up in research facilities as a result.
Class B dealers have been shown to regularly and willingly do everything in their power to ensure family pets are sold to be tortured in research laboratories. The monetary incentives associated with selling lost and stolen family pets motivate B dealers to violate countless laws. Records are falsified, evidence of ownership, such as dog tags, are purposefully destroyed and no attempt is made to reunite microchipped animals with their families. Instead, these companion animals are kept in often-squalid conditions before being sold for use in experimentation.
The enforcement of the AWA is the responsibility of the Animal Care division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Government documents show the laws of the AWA severely lack enforcement and APHIS is unable to ensure animals are well cared for. Additionally, violators who are penalized for their infringements consider monetary penalties an accepted cost of conducting business, rather than a disincentive for violating existing laws. As a result, violations of the AWA, including the falsification of records easily continue undeterred.
The Future of B Dealers:
The number of B dealers has declined sharply over the decades, thanks to public outrage following LCA’s investigations and increased media attention.
The few remaining B dealers must apply to renew their licenses each year, which will not be possible in 2016. However, the measure to ban Class B dealer licensing must be included in future spending bills to remain in effect. LCA has been assured by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard’s office that the congresswoman will continue including the measure in future bills, LCA is working to ensure that Class B dealers are not allowed to reopen in the future.
Remaining B Dealers Who Still Provide Dogs to Research Labs:
34-B-0218 James Woudenberg, (Howard City)(He was found to have violated the Animal Welfare Act by obtaining dogs from illegal sources In a September 2014 ruling by a judicial officer.)
34-B-0002 Fred Hodgins, Inc., dba Hodgins Kennels (Howell and Fowlerville)
56-B-0109 George S. Ward, DBA: Whale Branch Animal Services (Seabrook)